If you were watching Monday’s NCAA title game and were afraid to say the officials were having a bad night, don’t worry …. LeBron James has your back.
The Cleveland Cavaliers superstar has been known to criticize a ref or two in his day, but it’s unlikely that anyone is going to call him out for this one. That’s because the second half of North Carolina’s victory over Gonzaga was a foul-filled slog that featured more lowlights from the refs than highlights from the athletes on the floor.
Take it away, LeBron.
Man I can't watch this anymore man! I would like to see the kids decide who wins the game! I mean Bruh!! Smh— LeBron James (@KingJames) April 4, 2017
James tweeted this with about 10 minutes left in the second half. At that point there had already been 21 whistles in the half and 39 overall, more than the totals in seven of the eight previous title games.
A total of 44 ended up being called — an even 22 for each team — for the highest total since 50 were called during North Carolina’s win over Michigan State in the 2009 championship. The high totals put Gonzaga’s big men in foul trouble for most of the half and its most effective forward, Zach Collins, fouled out with five minutes remaining. North Carolina big Kennedy Meeks also suffered from foul trouble with his fourth taken when he was simply trying to establish possession away from the ball.
Making matters worse was that both Gonzaga and North Carolina refused to take advantage from the foul shots they were awarded. North Carolina made only 15 of its 26 free throw attempts while Gonzaga was 17 of 26 from the line.
With a foul called on almost every trip down the floor, whether it was warranted or not, a few other famous names took to Twitter to join the multitudes who were unhappy with the work of Michael Stephens, Verne Harris and Mike Eades.
Among them: One of LeBron’s old pals from the Miami Heat, a former North Carolina champion, an Arizona Cardinals receiver and a Chicago White Sox third baseman.
Let these kids play. Put the whistles away.— DWade (@DwyaneWade) April 4, 2017
Refs please stay out of the game…you're ruining it for both teams #NCAAChampionship— James Worthy (@JamesWorthy42) April 4, 2017
These refs are killing this game. Need better crew in final game NCAA— Todd Frazier (@FlavaFraz21) April 4, 2017
Refs please let the kids decide the game. In the bonus with more than 10 mins left in the game. Come on!!#nationalchampionship— Larry Fitzgerald (@LarryFitzgerald) April 4, 2017
In the end, though, it was USA Today reporter Nicole Auerbach who best summed up for the feeling for anyone who played, coached or watched this game.
I am going to hear whistles in my sleep tonight.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) April 4, 2017